Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) have opened a demonstration facility that will produce aviation biofuels from used cooking oil or “gutter oil” as it is called in China. The companies estimate gutter oil could produce 500 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of aviation biofuels each year.
“Strong and continuing teamwork between Boeing and COMAC is helping our industry make progress on environmental challenges that no single company or country can solve alone,” said Ian Thomas, President, Boeing China. “By working together for mutual benefit, we’re finding innovative ways to support China’s aviation industry and build a sustainable future.”
Boeing and COMAC are sponsoring the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project. It will use a technology developed by Hangzhou Energy & Engineering Technology Co., Ltd. (HEET) to clean contaminants from waste oils and convert it into jet fuel at a rate of 160 gallons (650 liters) per day. The project’s goal is to assess the technical feasibility and cost of producing higher volumes of biofuel.
“We are very happy to see the progress that has been made in the collaboration between Boeing and COMAC, especially the achievement in aviation biofuel technology,” said Dr. Guangqiu Wang, Vice President of COMAC’s Beijing Aeronautical Science & Technology Research Institute. “We will continue to work with Boeing in energy conservation and emissions reduction areas to promote the sustainable development of the aviation industry.”
The Boeing Current Market Outlook forecasts that China will require more than 6,000 new airplanes by 2033 to meet fast-growing passenger demand for domestic and international air travel. Boeing and COMAC have been collaborating since 2012 through their Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center. The biojet fuel produced by the project will meet international specifications approved in 2011 for jet fuel made from plant oils and animal fats. This type of biofuel has already been used for more than 1,600 commercial flights.
Americans United for Change (AUC) is saying Iowa has become the latest victim of a Big Oil spill. According to the organization it was reported that Koch brothers-affiliated Super PAC is saturating Iowa’s airwaves with a dishonest attack ad on Iowa Senate hopeful Joni Ernt’s behalf.
In the words of Americans United, “Call it a friend doing a friend a favor, and expecting a big favor in return”.
Not too long ago Ernst was caught on tape praising the billionaire oil barons for launching her career “trajectory” beyond “a little known State Senator”. AUC say the anti-ethanol Koch family and donor network has funneled tens of thousands of dollars into her campaign, especially after she professed her ‘philosophical opposition’ to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) despite the fact it supports nearly 75,000 Iowa jobs. That was music to the ears, says AUC of the entire oil industry which is trying to put their cleaner, cheaper ethanol competition out of business – as was Ernst’s campaign declaration that: “Joni actually believes that when you spend money, you should get something in return”.
So what do the Koch brothers expect in return for their ‘trajectory’ launching investment in Ernst’s political future? According to new report from Environment & Energy Publishing, Koch Industries has spent nearly $9.5 million on its advocacy operations so far this year. “…That’s a significant hike from the almost $8 million that the oil and gas giant spent on lobbying at this point last year.” And according to the latest U.S. Senate lobbying reports filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, two of the top legislative priorities that the Koch Industries lobbied for included the Renewable Fuel Standard Repeal Act (S.1195) and the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013 (S.1807).
“The anti-ethanol Koch brothers are counting up all the favors they’ve done for their friend Joni Ernst, and it’s approaching the million mark,” says Jeremy Funk, communications director for Americans United for Change. “And they’re not the type of guys who forget about it. Would Exxon Ernst be able to say ‘no’ to her big oil friends when they call in a favor that runs counter to Iowa’s economic interests? Would she look the other way when the Kochs spend another $10 million lobbying the Senate to kill the RFS and Iowa jobs? With stakes so high for Iowa’s future, Ernst’s loyalties shouldn’t be this big of a question mark – but unfortunately they are.”
NRG Energy, Inc. and MGM Resorts International have completed installation of what they believe is the world’s largest rooftop solar array on a convention center. Covering approximately 20 acres atop the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the 6.4 MW photovoltaic array will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 average sized U.S. homes each year and is the first of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Together, MGM Resorts and NRG are an excellent example of private sector companies working together to develop innovative technologies that protect our planet’s most precious resources,” said Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I applaud MGM and NRG for leading the way for other businesses to embrace environmental best practices, and demonstrating that it’s good for business.”
MGM Resorts and NRG also announced plans to build an additional 2 MW dc photovoltaic array atop a future expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, scheduled to begin construction later this year.
“Today marks a major milestone for MGM Resorts, NRG and the entire Las Vegas community,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “The completion of this solar array demonstrates our steadfast commitment to the principles of environmental responsibility, and the announcement of the second array reinforces that we’re always looking to do more.”
When the addition is completed, the solar project is projected to provide pricing stability and reduce energy draw from the grid during peak times. Through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Mandalay Bay Resort will purchase all the electricity generated by both solar arrays.
Tom Doyle, President and CEO of NRG Renew added, “As one of the largest providers of renewable energy solutions in North America, we’re delighted to be the chosen partner of MGM Resorts to take this giant leap forward and join their longstanding legacy in environmental stewardship. NRG envisions a thriving, sustainable future powered by renewable energy. We look forward to continuing our partnership with MGM in bringing competitively priced, clean energy to Mandalay Bay through the second solar array of this project; further supporting their commitment to reducing energy costs.”
Biodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group will be able to crank out high quality biodiesel from a wide variety of raw materials at its Mason City, Iowa plant, thanks to a major upgrade to the 30 million gallon per year facility. This $20 million project has been a year in the making, and the ribbon cutting attracted several state and local government and business leaders.
The upgrades enable the Mason City biorefinery to utilize multiple raw materials, such as inedible corn oil, animal fats and greases, in addition to the refined vegetable oils the plant was originally designed to process. The upgrades were completed almost two months ahead of schedule and within budget.
“These upgrades further expand and strengthen our multi-feedstock business model, which allows REG to produce and deliver high-quality biomass-based diesel at an affordable price to growing regional and national markets,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are well-positioned to meet growing demand in Iowa, with its retail incentive for advanced biofuels, and in Minnesota as it increases its use of higher biodiesel blends.”
REG also improved the existing front-end technology at the biorefinery that enables higher yields from free fatty acids in the production process.
“Enhancing the plant’s pretreatment and distillation capabilities will enable us to take a broader spectrum of lower-cost feedstocks and produce a high quality product,” said Brad Albin, REG Vice President, Manufacturing. “The increased feedstock flexibility helps drive greater demand for local feedstock suppliers and keeps more of their products in the Midwest.”
REG bought the Mason City biorefinery a year ago this past summer, reopening it just a few months later. The state and local governments kicked in about $2.5 million in incentives to make it a reality. REG completed a similar upgrade to another 30-million-gallon per year plant just up the road in Albert Lea, Minnesota.
A University of Colorado student who includes biodiesel in her research will be flying high – WAYYYY high – as she is awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Senior Jeni Sorli picks up the scholarship when former NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless presents the honor on campus on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Sorli, a chemical engineering major from Billings, Montana, is the recipient of a number of other prestigious awards. She is a Goldwater Scholar, an Engineering Merit Scholar, a Norlin Scholar, a Presidential Scholar and a Conoco Phillips engineering intern.
Sorli currently is involved with the Engineering Honors Program, the CU Chapter of Engineers without Borders and CU Biodiesel. She has been studying renewable fuels, including working in the lab of Professor Alan Weimer researching biomass degasification.
The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit.
There is a new app for propane. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a suite of cost calculator tools designed for customers in three of the industry’s fastest-growing markets: agriculture, commercial landscape, and on road fleets. The calculators estimate potential fuel savings and ROI when using propane as compared with conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel.
“One of the main reasons fleets, agribusiness operators or commercial landscapers consider making a switch to an alternative fuel like propane is simple: They want to improve their bottom line,” said Tucker Perkins, PERC’s chief business development officer. “With these new applications, equipment dealers, propane providers, and customers can easily calculate fuel costs with propane specific to their market and operations. And with the online and mobile tools, they can share results on the spot via email.”
The PERC cost calculator series currently includes the Propane Irrigation Engine Calculator, Propane Mower Calculator and Propane Autogas Calculator – all available in multiple different platforms.
BlueFire Renewables has received a Letter of Intent from the Export Import Bank of China to provide up to $270 million in debt financing for its bioenergy project located in Fulton, Mississippi. As advanced bioenergy companies struggle with private financing, BlueFire said the the financing is “unprecedented” and significant for the U.S. market.
“This is a significant feat, not just for BlueFire as it also provides a model for the U.S. small business community because it is a strong indication of China’s commitment to support and fund U.S. renewable energy technologies to improve the environment and build a strong foundation for cooperation between China and the U.S. in the field of renewable energy,” said Arnold Klann, CEO of BlueFire Renewables.
According to Klann, BlueFire has been working with China EXIM in response to the China Strategic and Economic Dialogue with the U.S. that encourages U.S./China cooperation in the renewable energy field including financing. Klann believes his company’s technology could be the path to commercialization for many languishing renewable energy projects.
“There are significant opportunities for replicating the BlueFire Fulton size or larger facilities in China and the U.S. to deal with problematic agricultural and urban waste currently being burned or buried,” added Klann. “Debt financing has been the most difficult part of the financing to obtain for the cellulosic biofuels industry. BlueFire’s business model and relationships with China EXIM will set the standard for future debt financing arrangements and could be the spark that leads to the more beneficial use of cellulosic wastes in the biofuels industry in the U.S. and China. We are cracking the code when it comes to striking a win-win business deal for China, the U.S. and energy consumers.”
The Letter of Intent continues the international collaboration between U.S. and China initiated by BlueFire. The companies will continue to work together to complete the standard due diligence procedures of the China EXIM bank and meet all credit criteria and condition precedent to reach definitive agreements in order to complete the financing as soon as possible. Once completed, China Three Gorges Corporation and its U.S. subcontractors will begin construction of the Fulton Project.
The Ansell factory complex in Biyagama, Sri Lanka has installed its second biomass boiler as part of company initiatives to be greener. The new boiler has a capacity of 12.5MW and will be the largest hot water boiler in Sri Lanka. Ansell Lanka already has a 10.5MW boiler installed at its premises, which reduced CO2 emissions by 11,000 MT per annum. From 2004 to 2012, CO2 emissions have been reduced by 36 percent across all of Ansell’s manufacturing facilities, with the global CO2 emission rate from 2013 to 2014 alone reduced by 6 percent. The company anticipates the reduction of a further 14,000 MT of CO2 emissions annually as furnace oil consumption will now be reduced to the bare minimum.
“This project represents another step forward in Ansell’s business strategy to conducting business ethically, transparently, and in ways that produce social, environmental, and economic benefits for communities around the world,” said Steve Genzer, senior vice president of global operations at Ansell. “We would like to thank the government of Sri Lanka for its continued support, and the more than 4,000 Ansell employees who are the driving force of implementing these green programs.”
The announcement is part of the company’s Green Productivity program, focused on energy management, and implemented within manufacturing operations across Ansell. Energy management at Ansell focuses on achieving the most efficient and effective use of energy and simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Programs that have been implemented include the installation of equipment to recover energy from flue gas emitted from boiler chimneys as an energy source to heat water, the installation of energy efficient equipment to provide chilled water for manufacturing site cooling systems and the conversion of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
“While the forward progress made in the last 10 years has been incredible, this is only the tip of the iceberg in how Ansell will be doing business differently in the years to come,” added Genzer. “Ansell is committed to a number of sustainable and practical initiatives that are designed to make a positive and lasting contribution to the markets it serves and the community in general.”
A national poll by EnviroMedia fins that a large majority of Americans are definately or somewhat interested in new solar leasing programs offering installation for little or no money down and a low monthly fee.
“It’s no surprise we found 70 percent of Americans perceived ‘cost’ was a barrier to installing solar panels,” said EnviroMedia president and behavior change expert Kevin Tuerff. “Consumers are probably unaware of the plummeting cost of solar power, and most have never heard of solar leasing.”
The new poll finds 48 percent of American homeowners say they have not considered adding solar panels to their home to offset some of their electricity use. However interest in a solar option spiked when respondents were educated about the benefits of a solar leasing program. About 67 percent said that they were very or somewhat interested in such a program.
The poll also found that only 9 percent of respondents said they currently participate in a renewable energy or green power option with their electricity provider. But 69 percent said they might be interested.
“Americans need basic education about where their electricity comes from and how clean energy works,” added Tuerff. “Unfortunately, only one-third of Americans said they definitely know the fuel source of their electricity, so we’ve got a ways to go.”
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Has the uncertainty for the RFS caused by the EPA hurt your community?”
No doubt the uncertainty for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) caused by the EPA has hurt many of our communities. This unpredictability has been around over a year and has left many wondering what the final renewable fuel volumes will be. I am sure the uncertainty has impacted our lives more then many even are aware.
Here are the poll results:
- Yes, lost local business/jobs – 73%
- No, no impact – 27%
- Don’t know – 0%
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What should US do about WTO COOL ruling?
The industry has reacted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) decision against the United States on the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law since the announcement was made earlier this week. Some feel the issue can be handled by USDA, others feel Congress should take charge. Or are there are other options?
Yesterday was the Second Annual National Bioenergy Day, and more than 40 facilities and organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada opened their doors to show folks the benefits of using woody biomass for heating and electrical power production.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has continued to support bioenergy’s role in protecting the health of forests on federal lands, saying, “Renewable wood energy is part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. The Forest Service works with its partners to support the development of wood energy projects that promote sound forest management, expand regional economies and create new rural jobs.”
“The continuation of National Bioenergy Day into a second year is truly exciting. We are grateful to our sponsors, particularly the U.S. Forest Service, for their dedication to raising awareness about the role of bioenergy in communities across the nation,” said Bob Cleaves, President and CEO of Biomass Power Association. “Today, all across the country, people are learning about bioenergy and how it helps local economies and forests.”
Some of the National Bioenergy Day sponsors include Biomass Power Association, U.S. Forest Service, Plum Creek, Pellet Fuels Institute, U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, and the Biomass Thermal Energy Council. You can learn more at www.bioenergyday.com.
A tire maker is looking to get tires and biofuels to keep those wheels rolling from the biomass of a plant. This news release from Cooper Tire says the company completed tire builds using rubber derived from guayule plants and new guayule related materials and also hopes to get biofuels from those plant materials.
This development was reported by Cooper to its consortium partners—PanAridus, Arizona State University, Cornell University, and the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS)—as the group met recently in Maricopa, Arizona for its third annual meeting and progress report on their $6.9 million Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant, “Securing the Future of Natural Rubber—An American Tire and Bioenergy Platform from Guayule.” The consortium received the BRDI grant in 2012 from the USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct research aimed at developing enhanced manufacturing processes for the production of solid rubber from the guayule plant as a biomaterial for tire applications, as well as evaluating the plant’s residual biomass for fuel applications. The consortium aims to harness biopolymers extracted from guayule as a replacement for synthetic rubbers and Hevea natural rubber used in the production of tires. It is also focused on genomic and agronomic development of guayule and the sustainability impact these biomaterial and bioenergy industries have on the American Southwest, where guayule is grown.
So far, the testing shows the tires are at least equal to tires made of components derived from the more traditional Hevea rubber plant.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to provide documents regarding oil industry efforts to influence the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Last May, following a Reuters article describing how the Carlyle Group and Delta Airlines had lobbied members of Congress and the administration to reduce the amount of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel, CREW asked for an investigation by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records. It took months for the EPA to release even the documents the agency already had provided to Reuters, and it has yet to hand over all relevant documents.
Based on a follow-up Reuters article, CREW also has concerns that oil companies leveraged high-level political connections to convince the White House and the EPA to insert special waivers into the RFS that could potentially allow oil companies to refuse to sell biofuels.
“It certainly seems as if the administration has backtracked on its commitment to renewable fuels. The question is why. Was there a back room deal orchestrated by big oil and high ranking officials in the Obama administration?” asked CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Even though it is nearly 2015, the renewable fuel standards for 2014 still haven’t been released. Is this to avoid potential political fallout in the mid-terms for siding with the oil industry over the biofuel industry?”
CREW also notes that Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent a letter earlier this month to the White House expressing their concerns about EPA potentially inserting a waiver into the RFS, which would allow oil companies to refuse to distribute renewable fuel. Carlyle and Delta lobbied heavily for both of these modifications to the program and would benefit financially from the change.